GUEST COLUMN — Texas Defense Chairman Terry Wilson talks Dade Phelan’s Conservative record

Published 12:06 am Thursday, May 16, 2024

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In his two sessions as Speaker of the House, Dade Phelan has delivered on major conservative priorities including lowering property taxes, passing constitutional carry, banning abortion, securing our elections, lowering the cost of prescription drug and combatting woke ideologies coming for Texas children in all aspects of their daily lives.

In 2016, when I was first elected to the Texas House, no one could imagine this many conservative priorities being accomplished so quickly, but your State Representative and Speaker of the House, Dade Phelan, made it happen. Unfortunately, some within the Republican Party are working to conceal these achievements from voters, primarily because they profit from the misinformation and interparty conflicts they create.

That’s why I want to clarify the facts before the upcoming May 28th runoff election, particularly as they relate to border security.

Recently, groups like Texans United for a Conservative Majority and Texans for Strong Borders have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on misleading campaign advertising in House District 21 claiming Speaker Phelan supports open borders and blocked the creation of a specialty border defense force on the Texas-Mexico Border.

Funded by the same West Texas megadonor bankrolling David Covey’s campaign, these groups are all operated by the same disgraced consultant who ran cover for former Representative Bryan Slaton’s sexual predator behavior and held strategy meetings with a self-proclaimed neo-Nazi while Israel was being attacked by Hamas.

To put it simply – they have bad intentions, and they don’t tell the truth. They are notorious for twisting facts to achieve their own ends, but facts are facts, and voters deserve to hear the truth directly from someone who witnessed it.

Before the legislative session, some of my colleagues and I proposed a bill to establish a new, specialized agency to provide additional law enforcement protection along the border. Speaker Phelan immediately prioritized this bill and assigned it a low bill number, HB 20, as an indication of its importance. Unfortunately, as lawmakers were debating this bill, HB 20 faced a procedural challenge known as a “point of order”, which can be called by any representative who believes a bill has violated legislative rules or procedures, and often dictates a bill’s final outcome.

HB 20 came to the floor containing at least two major subjects, the first being the creation of this new border force and the other empowering law enforcement with additional authority should the governor officially declare an invasion. A point of order was raised because the Texas Constitution requires bills to be limited to a single subject, the point of order was sustained, and the bill failed.

Speaker Phelan’s opponents have dishonestly politicized this outcome and gone to great lengths to conceal the fact that he tried to save this policy by merging it into another bill, HB 7, which passed the House 88 to 58. Unfortunately, the Senate prevented it from becoming law by tacking on extraneous amendments that again put the bill in violation of the one-subject rule, rendering it dead on arrival.

The Senate added a provision to create a criminal offense for migrants who unlawfully enter the state — an excellent idea, but one much better suited for its own separate bill. We ultimately passed this in the form of SB 4, which is now the strongest border security law in the country.

Additionally, under Speaker Phelan’s leadership, the Legislature dedicated over $6.5 billion toward border security and building the wall, increased support for Governor Abbott’s Operation Lone Star, designated foreign cartels as terrorist organizations and added resources for local border courts to address their increased case load.

Critics’ assertions that no progress was made to secure the border simply because one provision of one bill failed are completely dishonest and misleading. No state has done more for the border security of our nation than Texas, and it was the combined efforts of Speaker Phelan and Governor Abbott who made it possible.

Anyone who says otherwise is acting in bad faith to dupe voters, and I urge you to reject their false claims at the ballot box later this month.

The idea of a special border force was born out of a desire for new and creative solutions to our state’s border crisis. That work continues, and as we approach the 89th legislature, our commitment to enhancing state security remains unwavering. Together, we will continue to make Texas a safer, stronger state.

Colonel Terry M. Wilson is the chairman of Defense & Veterans’ Affairs for the Texas House of Representatives. He represents Texas’ District 20 and is retired from the United State Army. He can be reached at 512-463-0309.